Memory Scarf

 

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Ciao lovely readers! The idea for this scarf came about following my daughter’s performance in a play. To be clear, my little one was Tinkerbell in her school’s second grade play and she received an armful of flowers after her performance (which was awesome – but then I’m obviously totally unbiased). At some point, I looked at my baby girl and I said, “Why don’t we make a scarf out of those flowers? That way we can always remember them and your play.” She was totally game! 

There were some silver dollar eucalyptus in the mix, which I knew would dye well but other than that I had no clue what would and wouldn’t work.

We let the flowers dry out for a week or so before we got started.

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My kiddo picked out a narrow longish silk charmeuse scarf (the Dharma Trading site where I purchased it calls this a belt but it actually makes a cute narrow scarf). 

First we wet the fabric and then we laid it flat. We folded it in half to find the middle and then arranged some flowers and leaves on one half of the scarf. This is important because the second half will then be laid on top which will sandwich the plant material and give you a similar print on either side of the scarf. Capeesh?

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Also important is that we laid the scarf out on top of a length of paper towels.

The flowers and leaves that I could identify are silver dollar eucalyptus, rose petals, and chamomile. The hot pink flower running down the center is unknown to me.

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Next, we put a stick at one end and we rolled everything up including the paper towels. I like to use them as a barrier between the layers so that the leaves and flowers print more clearly.

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The next step is to tie it up into a bundle. We used artificial sinew but twine or white dental floss would work equally well.

We put our bundle into my dedicated dye pot to steam.

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After about two hours of steaming, we took it out and it occurred to me that we would most certainly need to use a mordant of some kind to “fix” the plant dye into the fabric. Although some plant materials like eucalyptus are what is referred to as “substantive” and don’t require a mordant, most are not in this category. So since I had some homemade iron mordant (vinegar and super fine steel wool left in a jar for approximately one week) on hand I poured a few tablespoons of that into my pot, gave it a stir, put the bundle in, brought it to a low simmer, turned the heat down and let it go for an hour or so. An alternative to the iron mordant would be to add approximately one tablespoon of alum.

We pulled out our bundle and took a look. Bear in mind that the fabric is wet so the colors are darker than they will be when the fabric dries.

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Here are some close ups.

At this point, we both felt like the scarf could use a bit more color and pattern and since we still had a ton of plant material we did another layer that mostly consisted of leaves of unknown origin.

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We rolled it up again but this time we skipped the paper towels and we put it straight back into the iron mordant bath. We turned on the heat and let it go for about an hour and then turned off the heat and forgot about it for about 3 or 4 hours. At that point, we pulled it out and let the bundle sit overnight. Some folks who dye using this method let their pieces go for a week or more, but we were too impatient for that.

Here it is when we first unrolled it. I’m honestly not sure how much round two added to the design?  But, and this is a big but, my daughter loves it! Now we have the memory of the event permanently on fabric and we have the memory of making the scarf! 🙂 So lovely.

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Finally, we hung the scarf outside to dry and ironed it.

In conclusion, it seems to me that the eucalyptus really did the heavy lifting here. The other plant material added a bit of texture and color and the iron mordant definitely added some grey bits here and there. The eucalyptus left some fairly defined prints but it’s really the gorgeous shades of orange and rust and peach that are the most striking. The other leaves didn’t leave distinct shapes behind. Perhaps a much longer sit would have made a significant difference. I also noticed that the steaming method seemed to do a better job of transferring the color into the fiber. So in addition to a wonderful memory with my daughter, I learned a thing or two. Win, win!!!

Here’s my girl modeling her new treasure. Bellissimo! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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“Mud Cloth” Pillow with Inktense

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Hey there! So I picked up some Jaquard No Flow when I was at a “real deal” art supply store the other day and I was curious to see how it would perform. According to the label you’re supposed to paint it onto the entire surface of your fabric and then voila you can paint with dye and it won’t run! Hmmmmm, I was a little skeptical but I was willing to give it a try. My plan was to paint on a mud cloth inspired design using naturally derived indigo.

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I decided to grab a white cotton canvas Ikea pillow case that I had laying around. Before painting the fabric with the No Flow, I put a piece of clear vinyl into the pillow case to prevent any bleed through.

The No Flow is really thick and it’s very difficult to see on white fabric. So I was super careful to make certain that I covered every square inch of my pillow case. I then put it outside to dry while I tended to my indigo vat.

I’m excited to (finally) be sharing a bit of info about indigo dyeing with y’all! I will definitely be doing more indigo tutorials in the near future. It’s one of my favorite dyes for a multitude of reasons. First, the color. I LOVE this color. It’s ancient and timeless and chic and classy and…sublime. Next, as a dye it’s super fun to work with. I use Pre-Reduced Indigo Crystals from Dharma Trading. This is naturally derived indigo that has been “reduced” to make it much faster and easier to work with than traditional indigo which is not water soluble and requires a series of time consuming steps to get into a workable form. My current indigo vat has been going for well over one year now. I simply add Thiox or Color Remover and/or indigo as needed to maintain it. I also love that the fabric comes out of the vat green in color and then turns blue as it oxidizes. It’s still fun for me to watch this process! Finally, I love that indigo works on protein fibers and plant based fibers and no mordant is required!

The only “con” that I can think of is that indigo can fade over time (like a pair of jeans), but that really doesn’t bother me all that much. 🙂

Although it may be difficult to see here, my vat is looking a bit grey blue and murky which tells me that it needs an addition of Thiox and indigo. Click here for instructions on how to tend to an indigo vat.

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Hello there! Can you see me and my phone in the indigo?

I’m adding 10-11 grams of indigo and Thiox.

Next, I gave my vat a good stir (first clockwise then counterclockwise). The bubbles that form on top are known as the “flower.”  This is a cap or crust that helps to keep oxygen out of your dye bath. You will need to remove it before you dye and then replace it when you are done.

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Since I’m not vat dyeing in this instance, I simply scooped up some of my dye and put it into a glass jar so that I could paint my pillowcase with it.

I decided to sketch out a design with a pencil before I began painting. As I mentioned, I was inspired by the designs in traditional African mud cloth.

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Here goes! Fingers crossed!

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Well, it mostly worked but there are definitely a few areas where the dye seems to be bleeding a bit. Perhaps a second coat of the No Flow would have done the trick?

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I don’t like how fuzzy my edges are! I was really hoping for crisp, clean edges! So, I decided to break out these:

This is my first time using the Fabric Fun Dye Sticks and my third or forth go with the Inktense Sticks. The Fabric Fun sticks are waxy and the intensity of color doesn’t match the Inktense. After some experimentation, the Inktense sticks took the win by a mile and I stopped using the Fabric Fun altogether.

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As you can see, I decided to change up my design as I moved along. The pencil lines will wash out, so no worries! The Inktense sticks are easy to draw with and when you go over them with water, they dissolve and become more intensely colored. According to the directions, they need to sit for 24 hours and then be heat set before the color is washable.

At this point, I noticed that in spite of my best efforts some of the indigo had bled through onto the back of my pillowcase. So I decided to go with the flow and brush indigo onto the entire backside.

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I set my pillowcase to dry and this is what I found the next day.

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Yikes! What’s up with that ugly yellow ring around my pillow? I’m thinking it’s from the indigo and I’m hoping that it washes out?! Regardless, I went ahead and heat set it for 1-3 minutes with my iron on the hottest setting.

Next, I washed my pillowcase in Synthrapol (which is a professional textile detergent – however, any mild detergent would be fine) and it took about four quick washes to get my water to run clear. When I pulled the pillowcase out of the water, the nasty yellow ring had disappeared! Yay!

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For some odd reason I didn’t take pictures at this  point. Argh! But suffice it to say that the wash water took away a good bit of my color even though I heat set everything?! Maybe this had to do with the No Flow? To remedy the situation, I went over all of my lines, first with Inktense and then with a water laden brush. I then gave the back another brush with some Indigo and I added a few black and blue lines with the Inktense for some interest.

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The pillow case is wet in both of the pictures above. so the colors are most certainly darker than they will ultimately be, but I’m liking what I see. 🙂

After 24 hours I ironed my fabric on high heat for about 5 minutes.

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Here it is before it was washed.

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My fingers are crossed that the color holds fast this time. I’m really starting to think that the No Flow interfered with the Inktense because my lines are much more clear and saturated this time.

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Okay, so I lost a little color in the wash, but not bad. I can’t decide if I like the black that bled out around the edges of the lines. On the one hand it gives it a bit of dimension…on the other it looks a bit smudgy. 😦  As for the No Flow it was a “no go” on this one! Perhaps it was my fabric choice or the indigo? My experience tells me that it may work best on silk with silk paints so I’m willing to give it another try at some point. In the end, this was more about the Inktense sticks than the No Flow or even the indigo.

Please feel free to share your thoughts or your experiences with any of these products! 🙂

 

Plum and Eucalyptus Leaf Printed Scarf

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Hello dear readers! I was taking a walk the other day when I noticed some ornamental plum trees in an open space area. I recalled reading that they could be used for dye so I plucked a few leaves. The color of the leaves was really gorgeous and the leaf shape was pleasingly simple so I decided that a leaf printing technique would be fun to try on a silk chiffon scarf. My next thought was that the pretty purple would look great contrasted against the orange from eucalyptus leaves. Lucky for me, there was a eucalyptus tree just down the hill from the plum tree so I picked a few stems.

Materials:

  • Ornamental Plum Leaves
  • Eucalyptus leaves  – not all species are created equal, so please be sure that you are using leaves from a tree that will dye your fabric
  • Protein fiber such as silk or wool – I’m using an 11 x 90 inch silk chiffon scarf
  • Paper towels
  • Stick or dowel
  • Artificial sinew, twine or dental floss
  • Dye pot – please use a pot that is exclusively used for dyeing!
  • Steamer basket – again for dyeing purposes only!
  • Alum 

Tutorial

Step 1: Wet your fabric and fold it in half so that you can find the middle. Lay one half of your fabric on some paper towels and bunch up the remainder (see pic below).

FYI – I am doing this because I would like the same image on both sides of the scarf. By “sandwiching” your leaves your print will be repeated on either side of your piece.

Step 2: Lay out your leaves to create a pattern of some sort.

Step 3: Carefully place the second half of your fabric on top of the first. I’m not going to lie, this is a pain in the butt. You will probably have to go back and rearrange your leaves along the length of your fabric more than one time. I noticed that I would get one section right and then move on only to find that the prior section had shifted. Grrr! Hang in there, with a little patience and persistence you will get it done!

Here are steps 1-3:

Step 4: Place a stick or a dowel at one end of your scarf and roll tightly and smoothly making sure to include your paper towel. The paper towel will act as a barrier so that your fabric doesn’t bleed back onto itself. For a more eco friendly alternative you could use a scrap piece of fabric in place of the paper towels.

Step 5: Now that you have your cute little bundle, you will need to tie it tightly to hold everything together and to insure that the fabric and the leaves are nice and cozy. I’m using artificial sinew but you could easily use twine or dental floss (It probably goes without saying, but you will need to use the white stuff, no blue colored mint dental floss).

Step 6: Add an inch or so of water to your dedicated dye pot, put your steamer basket inside, add your bundle and put a lid on your pot. Turn your heat to high and bring your water to a boil. Once your water is boiling turn your heat to low and steam for 2 hours. I typically turn my bundle about half way through. I’m not sure if this does anything, but it makes me feel better. 🙂

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Step 7: Let your bundle cool in the pot and let it sit overnight.

Step 8: Unwrap your bundle and take a look. This is always my favorite part! However, my results were less than spectacular. 😦

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Okay, so here’s where I messed up. First I assumed that the tree that I got my leaves from was the same variety as the tree that I had previously obtained leaves from (they looked very similar). After this result, I took a closer look at my leaves and stems and I could clearly see that this was not the same species of eucalyptus (there are over 900 varieties!). Here they are side by side:

The leaves and stems on the right came from a red ironbark or sideroxylon tree that sits just behind my back fence. The leaves on the left were the ones that I used for this scarf. Below is an example of the result that I got from the red ironbark tree, quelle difference!

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And another thing…I failed to consider the fact that natural dyes fall into two categories, substantive and adjective. Substantive dyes don’t require a mordant or fixative to be permanent and light fast. Examples of substantive dyes are eucalyptus, turmeric, tea and onion skins. However, most natural dyes fall into the adjective category and require a fixative of some sort. The most basic mordants are salt and vinegar but natural dyers often use fixatives such as tannin or alum which are quite low in terms of their toxicity. This information is relevant to this discussion because while the eucalyptus is a substantive dye, the plum is not and it will most certainly fade if I don’t “fix” it.

Last but not least, although this doesn’t qualify as something that I messed up, I noticed that I got a good depth of color and detail from the front sides of the plum leaves while the backsides are pale and blobby. So, I’m back to the drawing board!

*To avoid having to make any corrections and to get a beautiful result from the get go I would do the following:

First, use the correct eucalyptus leaves! This may require a little research. Red ironbarks are relatively easy to spot because of their bright red stems (yes, I know that I screwed this up, please don’t remind me!). Silver dollar eucalyptus are also a good choice and you can generally pick them up at Trader Joes (in the US).

Now as for the plum leaves, I would simply double them up so that the face of the leaf is facing the fabric on both sides. With regard to “fixing” the plum leaves, you have a few options. You can pre-mordant your fabric or you can add your mordant to your dye bath. The second option is much faster and easier so I vote for that one! Instead of steaming your fabric bundle place it in a water bath that contains one gallon of water and one tablespoon of alum (or vinegar and tea – see below). Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for one hour. Turn off your heat and let your bundle soak for about 2-24 hours. 

Alright, if you’re interested in hearing the rest of this saga, sigh, here’s how I corrected my errors. First I laid out the half of my scarf with the “good’ plum print. Then I gathered a bunch of eucalyptus leaves that had fallen into my yard from the nearby tree and I placed them along the length of my scarf. Next I carefully put the second half of the fabric on top. This was still a bit tricky but it wasn’t as hard as it was the first time that I did it.  I then put some plum leaves onto the side of the fabric that didn’t print well. My guess is that they may bleed a bit onto the “good” side…so my fingers are crossed that this doesn’t totally mess that side up. I then laid more paper towels on top, placed my stick at one end and rolled the whole thing up.

After binding my bundle with sinew, I put it in a water bath that contained one part vinegar to four parts of water (I ran out of alum, so although alum would be my preference, I’m using vinegar instead).  I also added a tea bag to help soften the color and to aid in fixing the plum (the tannin in tea is a natural fixative). I then brought it to a boil, turned down the heat and let it simmer for one hour. Finally, I turned off the heat and I let the bundle soak for about 5 hours.

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This is how it looked when I unwrapped my bundle and let it dry:

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So the good news is that the eucalyptus is much better! The not so great news is that my plan to improve the plum leaves didn’t work out very well. They actually look worse. Because I am a perfectionist (which is truly a curse) and I simply can’t leave well enough alone, I got out some Inktense sticks and a little brown fabric paint and I went to work defining those plum leaves.

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After I was (finally) satisfied with my scarf, I let it cure for 24 hours and I heat set it before giving it a wash and hanging it to dry. Another quick press with my iron and it’s done…

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I think it’s really pretty and I learned a lot, so alls well that ends well. Thanks for hanging in there with me through this one!

Bleeding Tissue Paper Tutorial – Modern Throw Pillow

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Hello there! This is a very simple project. If you can cut strips of paper, you can do this. I mean it, no joke. So let’s dig in!

Materials:

Tutorial

Step 1: Add 2 tablespoons of soda ash to 4 cups of warm water. Give your soda ash a few minutes to dissolve and add your fabric. Soak for 15 – 30 minutes.

FYI – This bleeding tissue paper technique was one of the first methods that I ever used to dye fabric! I saw a tutorial on the Dharma Trading website and it seemed so easy. However, I had trouble with the dye not fixing well which resulted in faded fabric and/or dye that ran endlessly when the fabric was washed. I have since read suggestions to use a vinegar soak prior to dyeing or to spray the tissue with vinegar (in fact I think the Dharma site has changed their tutorial to include vinegar). However, I have also read multiple comments from folks saying that they still had problems with the color running. So this is where the soda ash comes in. Although it is more typically used as a fixative for fiber reactive dyes, it does a good job of fixing this dye. I have also noticed that some of the pillow cases that I made long ago without the use of vinegar or soda ash seemed to have fixed well after heat setting. However, these pieces sat for about a year before I heat set and washed them (I had tossed them aside since it had been such a struggle to set this dye!). So, maybe no fixative is required if you don’t wash your piece for a good long while. 🙂

P.S. – I have only used this product on silk, but from what I understand there are no restrictions on the type of fabric that you can use.

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Step 2: Wring out your fabric and lay your pillow case on a work surface. Make certain to smooth out your fabric as much as possible.

You may wish to use gloves to do this because although soda ash is no more toxic than laundry detergent (which typically contains a lot of soda ash) it can irritate your skin. If you choose not to wear gloves please be sure to wash your hands well after handling your fabric.

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Step 3: Grab one sheet of bleeding tissue paper in the color of your choice. I love the combination of black and white, but you can use whatever color or design you wish! I folded my paper in half and then in half again and I used a pencil and a yardstick to draw lines (some wide and some more narrow). I cut along the lines without being too finicky.

Step 4: Lay your tissue paper on your fabric. I like to spritz the paper with water and smush it down with my finger tips as I go to insure that the tissue is making good contact with the fabric.

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As you can see from the picture above, there is a colorful halo around the edges of the paper. The black bleeding tissue paper by Spectra Art is the only color that does this. The effect generally gets stronger as the paper dries…so fun!

Step 5: Once your pillow case and your tissue paper are completely dry lift up your paper and check out your design. If you are happy with your result, iron your fabric for three to five minutes to further set the color, wash it with a mild detergent and rinse until your water runs clear. Please note that even with the soda ash fixative you will still get some dye run off when you wash your fabric.

This is my result. I’m not thrilled with it, it’s just okay. I like how the lines look layered but I would like them to be much darker and more solid. Since I have plenty of tissue paper strips left, I’m going to go over my lines a second time. Fingers crossed!

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Step 6: I’m really hoping that you won’t need a step six, but I definitely do! I sprayed the pillow case with water until it was fairly saturated and then I laid down my strips and sprayed them with water.

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As you can see there is much more dye bleeding out around the edges this time. I think that this is because I used a much bigger spray bottle and my tissue paper was really wet. I have to say that I’m kinda loving the juxtaposition between the straight black lines and the more fluid lines where the dye is bleeding.

This is how it looked when it was dry and I pulled off all of the paper.

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The “halo” effect is much stronger this time and I’m kind of obsessed with the bright yellow and pink that showed up at the bottom. It’s so cool how the black tissue paper leaches out pink, yellow, and blue! But it totally makes sense since black is composed of red (magenta), yellow, and blue (cyan).

*If you end up doing another layer of tissue paper, don’t forget to heat set your fabric and wash it in a mild detergent. There is no need to do this in between each layer. It’s only necessary to complete this step when you are all done. 🙂

Now here it is after it was heat set, washed and ironed again to get the wrinkles out.

 

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The black faded a tiny bit but the biggest thing that I noticed is that most of the yellow and some of the pink washed out. 😦 It’s still really pretty but I wish that those colors had stayed put!

Now here’s the cover shot!

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Comments and questions are welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

Eco Dyed Easter Eggs

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Okay folks, my objective is to make these as simple as possible. Like me, I’m sure that many of you are busy parents, or simply busy people. So the thought of going to the trouble of eco dyeing eggs is a bit daunting especially when you can run to the store and buy those nasty little tablets and voila – dyed eggs! Yes, I’ve done it. Many times. But this year, I will be eco dyeing and it will not be difficult. Alright, so maybe it will be more work than those little tablets, but you will be able to rest easy knowing that your eggs are totally free of synthetic dyes. And that’s worth its weight in gold, right?!

Let me break it down for you. You only need to make three colors – the primary ones (red, blue, and yellow). All of the other colors will be derived from those colors. So if you’re up for doing that, then you’re good to go!

Materials:

  • Two dozen hard boiled eggs
  • Red beets (about three large)
  • Purple cabbage (about 1 medium sized head) – this will make blue dye!
  • Turmeric
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Pot for boiling
  • 6 glass jars with lids (the standard wide mouth Ball jars work great)

Tutorial

Step 1: Rough chop your beets until you have about 4 cups – I used three large beets. Rough chop your head of cabbage until you have 8 cups – I used one medium cabbage. For the turmeric you will need 2-4 tablespoons (depending upon how yellow you want your eggs). Place each dye stuff in a separate pot. Add 8 cups of water and 4 tablespoons of vinegar to each pot. Bring to a boil, turn your heat down to medium and set your timer for 30 minutes. Strain your liquid and put it back in your pot. The turmeric pot can remain as is – no straining needed. At this point, you can let your liquid cool off or not, it’s up to you. Since I’m Little Miss Impatient, I didn’t wait. 

 

Step 2: Put 4 hard boiled eggs into each of the 6 glass jars. Use a ladle to put your primary colors (red, blue, yellow) into three of your jars. Fill until your eggs are completely covered. Now you will need to mix your dye to get your secondary colors:

  • Orange – approximately 3/4 turmeric dye to 1/4 beet dye
  • Green – approximately 3/4 turmeric dye to 1/4 cabbage dye
  • Purple – approximately 3/4 cabbage dye to 1/4 beet dye

Next just let your eggs soak. You can check your colors periodically to see how they are doing. For pastels it will take 30-60 minutes. For darker colors it will take several hours. You can even let them sit overnight if you want really saturated colors. I would pop them in the refrigerator if you decide to do this.

Once I got all of my eggs in their jars I went outside to arrange a beautiful picture for you (my lovely readers). I put my glass jars in a pretty little row on top of a wood table that was set against a white canvas. Then BAM a gust of wind kicked up and the whole thing fell forward. I wanted to cry. Two jars broke – tiny shards of glass went EVERYWHERE and most of the eggs cracked. Total nightmare. I was able to salvage three jars. :/

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So after cleaning up my gigantic mess and walking away for a bit to clear my head, I decided to go ahead and photograph all of the eggs so that you could see the colors. I’m so sad that there are so many cracked eggs because they are really pretty. 😦

If you decide to try this (and I really hope that you do) I have a few words to the wise. This is not an exact science and as you will soon see…your colors don’t always come out exactly as predicted. But that’s half the fun, especially when you are eco dyeing! So feel free to experiment! Vary the duration of time that your eggs sit in the the dye so that you get a range of colors. Or change up the ratios of dye in your mixtures and see what happens. Last but not least, this project is on the stinky side. The cabbage doesn’t smell great and the combo with the beets and the turmeric isn’t wonderful. So open up your windows and dye some eggs!

Here they are. 🙂

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As you can see, my red went a little brown. I think it may have been because I threw some beet stems and roots into the mix. Of course this affected the secondary colors that I used it for…I don’t mind how the orange came out and the deep teal blue (last pic) is gorgeous but I was going for purple. I think this color was a result of the red being on the brown side and using too much blue in my mix. The variation in blues (bottom left) resulted from leaving the eggs in the dye for differing lengths of time. The lighter color took about 30 minutes while the darker blue took about three hours. You could get a beautiful ombre affect by using a dozen eggs and dyeing them in one color for differing lengths of time. Maybe next year. 🙂

Happy Easter!

 

Dyeing with Turmeric Shibori Style

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Hello Sunshine! I have been wanting to try turmeric dyeing for a while now. Some of the examples that I have seen online are really beautiful. Much like the spice itself, the yellow is super saturated and gorgeous like bright golden sunshine! I love saturated colors so this is right up my alley. I figured that a pillow case would be a good starting point. To add a design element I will be doing a stitch resist shibori technique.

Materials:

  • silk pillow case – animal or protein fibers such as silk and wool will dye brighter than plant based fibers such as cotton or hemp, but any natural fiber will work
  • something round – I’m using a ceramic plate
  • washable marker or a vanishing fabric marker
  • artificial sinew, embroidery floss, or dental floss
  • large pot – a dedicated dye pot is recommended
  • 8 cups of water
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of turmeric – I bought a jar at Trader Joes for $1.99
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of alum – this is a mordant or fixative, I buy mine here 

 Tutorial

Step 1: Create a simple design on your fabric. I traced around a plate with a washable marker

Step 2: Stitch around your circle as shown below. I’m using artificial sinew because it is waterproof and I’m hoping it will give me nice clean lines. Make certain that your sinew (or whatever) is long enough to go around your circle and that you are left with a long tail (this will make more sense in a minute). In order to accommodate the sinew, I’m using a largish embroidery needle. If you do the same, you will notice that the needle will make small holes in your fabric. Don’t freak out, it will be fine as long as you’re okay with the holes. 🙂 If you are not okay with them then use a smaller needle and dental floss or embroidery floss. I’m going through both layers of the pillow case at once but you could certainly limit your stitching to the top layer if you want the back of your pillow to be a solid color. I’m also weaving the needle through multiple times with each pass (which makes this process go so much faster!).

Step 3: Now pull your sinew tightly making sure to pull the fabric in the center of your circle straight up.

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Step 4: Take your tail (the one you left earlier) and bind the center of your circle with your sinew. I want a lot of white so I’m binding quite a bit of the fabric. I would also like a solid colored circle in the center so I’m leaving a bit of fabric at the top.

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Step 5: Put four cups of water into your pot with one heaping tablespoon of alum and four heaping tablespoons of turmeric. Turn your heat to high and give your powders a few minutes to dissolve.

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Step 6: Wet your fabric (wet fabric accepts dye more evenly) and put it in your pot. Bring to a simmer and turn your heat down. For a nice medium yellow set your timer for one hour.

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Step 7: Once you are happy with the color of your fabric take it out, give it a rinse, untie your sinew, rinse again until your water runs clear and let it air dry. Iron to get out any wrinkles and to increase the colorfastness of your fabric.

I wanted my color to be really saturated so after one hour was up, I turned off the heat and let it sit for about four hours.

Please note that turmeric can be a fugitive dye meaning that it may fade over time and/or with exposure to the sun. The alum and the heat setting will help to prevent this from happening. Additionally, protein fibers like silk and wool accept the dye more readily and are more colorfast than plant based fibers.

Here’s the finished product. The yellow is SO gorgeous and happy! The dye pot is calling me to throw something else in…perhaps a scarf this time?

If you would rather buy than DIY go here.

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Colorhue and Rust Dyed Pillow Case

 

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Okay, so I debated about posting this because I am essentially using the same technique that I used in my last Rust Dyed Pillow Covers post. Well, with one important exception. This pillow case was dyed with Colorhue Dye before I placed the rusty bits on top. So, I decided to take this opportunity to discuss these dyes. I’m also so enamored with the turquoise and rust color combination that I had to share my gorgeous pics!

I have used Colorhue dyes extensively in my work. They were the first dyes that I really dove into when making scarves. They are wonderful dyes but they aren’t perfect and I have had trouble finding ANYONE out there discussing the pitfalls of this dye. According to the Dharma Trading website they are instant set concentrated dyes that require no heat setting.

Well that’s not exactly true in my experience. After a tremendous amount of trial and error I have found that although these dyes do strike incredibly fast, they do indeed require a little help to be colorfast. Without heat setting I have found that the color will run endlessly in my wash water. Certain colors are worse than others (red, black, and brown) but they all do this to some extent. Additionally, the Dharma site says that it is difficult to get good depth of color and a dark black. Much to the contrary I have been able to get beautiful saturated color (including deep blacks) with these dyes.

At one point I called the manufacturer because I was SO frustrated with my inability to completely fix these dyes. They recommended soaking my textiles in vinegar before dyeing. I have found that a vinegar soak (15 – 30 minutes) helps but the most important step is heat setting. My first attempt at heat setting was to microwave my fabric for approximately 3 minutes in a glass Pyrex dish covered in plastic wrap. This required stopping every minute or so to allow the steam to settle so that my plastic wouldn’t explode (you can guess how I learned that this was a necessary step). Ultimately, I discovered that a hot iron placed on top of my bundle (through a cloth or paper towel) right after dyeing was the fastest and most efficient method for setting this dye. I do this for approximately three minutes (turning the fabric every minute or so and moving my iron continuously so that I don’t scorch the fabric) and then I give it a good wash before hanging it to dry. There will still be some excess dye in your wash water but it WILL stop and your dye will be permanent at this point.

You can easily mix these dyes to get more color variation and although they are expensive they do go a long way. You can dip dye with them and you can dye more precisely using a dropper (I like the glass ones). If you want to see lots of examples check out my Etsy site (many of my scarves have been dyed with Colorhue dyes). Oh, one last bit, these dyes ONLY work on silk or silk blends although some of the information that I have read says they work on cellulose fibers (not so much, ask me how I know!).

Materials:

  • silk
  • vinegar
  • Colorhue Dye
  • aluminum foil
  • rusty bits
  • bricks, pavers, or rocks
  • time!
  • Derwink Inktense sticks, So Soft fabric paint, Lumiere fabric paint (optional)
  • hot iron
  • mild detergent

Tutorial

Step 1: Soak your fabric in vinegar and then dip it in a bath of Colorhue dye for 10-15 seconds. This dye is water based and non toxic (making it a good choice when working with kids – but it will stain, so be careful). This dye is also a concentrate so you simply mix it with water until you achieve the color you desire. I often dip a small piece of paper towel in my dye to check the color – bearing in mind that it will look several shades lighter when it’s dry. Please note that I decided to hold off on heat setting until after I did my rust dyeing since both dyes require heat to set.

Step 2: Lay out your fabric as flat as possible on a layer of aluminum foil and place your metal bits on half of your fabric.

This color combination is ridiculous!!! My rusty bits have been sitting outside since my last project and it seems that abject neglect has served them well! Fingers crossed for some beautiful fabric!

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I had to include this one because it’s just so darn pretty!

Step 3: Fold your fabric on top of the first half being careful not to disturb your design.

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Step 4: Place another piece of foil on top and then lay something heavy on top of that to insure good contact between your fabric and your rusty stuff. In the last pillow cover tutorial I recommended that you seal your foil before placing your bricks (or whatever) on top. I have since read that air helps to facilitate the rusting process so I have decided not to seal the foil this time. It will be interesting to see if the rust transfers more quickly (last time it took three days).

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Step 5: Once you have achieved a color that you are satisfied with open things up and let your fabric completely dry out. It’s been two days and I’m loving the color, so maybe not sealing things up was a good idea?

Things are still wet here, so the color is darker than it will be, but I LOVE how the blue seems to be turning green around the rusty bits! Also bear in mind that the rusty pieces are still in place so the fabric will definitely look different when I open this up and the bits are removed.

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In fact, since it just needs to dry out I don’t see why I can’t open it up now?! My impatient nature strikes again! Here goes!

Wow. Sooooooooo pretty. It’s like a gorgeous painting and can I tell you how much I love the pops of orange and gold?! I wish I could leave the metal pieces in place! But alas, they must go…

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Still really pretty, but I’m missing the orange and gold (maybe a little embellishing is in order?). And this is still wet so I’m anxious to see how it looks when it’s dry…it’s interesting how the rust transferred more strongly on the right or top half. I like that there is some variation in the pattern and the green is really lovely.

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Step 6: Embellish, or not. I decided to go for it with these and this for a little bit of gold sparkle. I did this while it was still a bit wet because the Inktense sticks require moisture. I defined some of the squares with a grey/black Inktense stick and I added orange and red accents with the same product. I painted gold onto some of the squares which I realize is difficult to see in the pic below, but it is a nice addition.

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I just couldn’t leave well enough alone. :/ I was craving a more saturated turquoise, more contrast overall and a bigger pop of color…so it went back into the Colorhue dye for about 3 minutes. I like that the rusty areas went more brown and less orange (more like when it was wet) and I’m happy that the blue is deeper. I also did a bit more embellishing with this in Metallic Bronze and I darkened some of the outlines with a mix of brown and black fabric paint. It definitely has a Gustav Klimt vibe. 🙂

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Step 7: Let it “cure” for 24 hours.

Step 8: Iron on high for three minutes to set the color.

Step 9: Wash in a mild detergent. I used Synthrapol, which is a professional textile detergent, but any mild detergent or shampoo is fine (shampoo works great on protein fibers because hair is made out of protein). Hang to dry and iron.

Here it is! If you would rather buy then diy go here. 🙂

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